ARLINGTON, Va. - About 200 people gathered in the atrium of the Army National Guard Readiness Center Dec. 13 to mark the 370th anniversary of the National Guard.
Before the birthday cake could be cut, though, Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army Guard, presented Gene McDaniel, a supervisor in the IT department, a pin for 50 years of federal service, and he praised the crowd for exceeding the readiness center’s Combined Federal Campaign goal of $170,000 by $30,000.
Standing on a podium with red and white poinsettias at his feet and flanked by a 20-foot Christmas tree on his left, Vaughn captured the significance of the day.
“We’re an institution within an institution that we’re older than,” he said, underscoring the fact that the Army National Guard is considerably older than the U.S. Army that was formed in 1775.
Vaughn talked about the origin of the Guard in 1636 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court ordered existing militia companies from the towns surrounding Boston to be formed into three regiments. He then talked about the Revolutionary War, explaining that the militia units “brought the entire populace into the fight.”
“It’s up to us to keep this organization as strong as possible,” said Vaughn in a tone that may have made the 15-foot statue of the Concord Minuteman, beside the readiness center’s entrance, clench his musket more firmly. “You’re what’s right about the United States,” the director added.
He led everyone in the “Army Song,” and then rolled along into the cake cutting, performed in Army fashion with a sword.
In his benediction, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Larry Jones remembered the Guard Soldiers who were serving thousands of miles away, on the front lines of the Global War on Terrorism. Jones asked for special grace for those in difficult and dangerous places.